I was invited for a private whisky tasting featuring five limited edition expressions from Morrison Bowmore Distillers at The Vintner on Duxton.Old Fashioned Cocktail made with Auchentoshan 12 Years Old
Hosted by Brand Ambassador Gordon Dundas, the whisky tasting featured five limited edition expressions from the cellars of Auchentoshan, Bowmore and Glen Garioch. We started off on a light note with a well-balanced, smoky and slightly sweet glass of a classic Old Fashioned cocktail that had been made with Auchentoshan 12 Years Old. I first discovered Auchentoshan when I visited Jiu Zhuang at Dempsey Hill earlier this year. Renowned for triple distilled whiskies, I was impressed by the Auchentoshan Three Wood so I couldn’t wait to discover more during this whisky tasting event.Auchentoshan 12 Years Old Whisky-Infused Jelly
It was a warm evening so we nibbled on cool whisky-infused jelly while waiting for the rest of the group to arrive. Arranged by order of potency, we were advised to start with the Auchentoshan 12 Years Old Whisky-infused jelly before moving on to the other two. Since the Old Fashioned cocktail and this jelly were made from the same type of whisky, I thought that they complemented each other well. The cocktail highlighted the citrus notes of the whisky jelly whilst the sugar that coated the jelly (the sugar crystals had mostly melted into a syrupy mess in the heat) enhanced the sweetness of the cocktail. If I were to make this I’d probably skip the sugar so I can have a better taste of the 12 year old whisky.Glen Garioch Virgin Oak Whisky-infused Jelly
The second jelly had been made with a limited edition expression, the Glen Garioch Virgin Oak. The only one without any sugar coating, this was my favourite of the three because I could taste the oakiness of the whisky without it being masked by the sweetness of the sugar.Bowmore The Devil’s Casks Whisky-infused Jelly
The most potent of the three, this was my second favourite amongst the three different jellies. I liked the strong, almost brandy-like flavour of the jelly but wasn’t too hot on the thick layer of white sugar crystals that coated it.Smoked Duck on Crisp Bread, Dijonnaise, Red Radish & Coriander
Our hosts had thoughtfully arranged for a light 5-course degustation menu that had been specially created by Chef Stephan Zoisl to ensure that we’d reap the maximum enjoyment at this whisky tasting without getting too tipsy from drinking on an empty stomach. The savoury smoked duck and spicy condiments were a welcome break from the cloying sweetness of the alcoholic jelly.Auchentoshan 12 Years Old
The duck was paired with Auchentoshan 12 Years Old, a slightly sweet Single Malt Whisky with a touch of citrus and caramelised sugar.Joselito Ham 48 months aged Jamon Iberico Bellota with Smoked Baby Potato, Aioli & Parsley Micro-Greens
My favourite dish on the whisky-paired degustation menu was the Joselito Ham, Ferran Adrià’s and Joel Robuchon’s preferred Jamon Iberico de Bellota. The burgundy-red, thin slices of 48 months aged ham were made from Pata Negra (black Iberian pigs with black hooves) that had indulged in an oleic acid-rich diet of acorns while roaming freely in oak forests and pastures. The umami-rich, nutty-tasting slices of ham glistened with the oil from the well-marbled meat that seemed to melt on the tongue. Jamon Iberico de Bellota is my favourite ham and I love to eat it on its own and sometimes with walnuts. Apparently the fats in Jamon Iberico de Bellota are supposed to be good for you as it helps to raise the good cholesterol whilst reducing bad cholesterol. Plus it’s touted to be vitamin-rich and filled with antioxidants, I could eat this every day if only it wasn’t so terribly expensive.Auchentoshan Virgin Oak @ S$257 (Retail)
The Joselito was paired with the exquisite Auchentoshan Virgin Oak. A limited edition expression, this is the distillery’s first spirit to be matured in North American virgin oak barrels. I loved the caramel and spiced apple flavour of this whisky. A Must-Try if you have the opportunity to savour some.
This platter seemed to pay homage to the woodiness of the virgin oak barrels used for two of the limited expressions that were served during the whisky tasting. Parmesan leaves adorned the mossy carpet that covered the tree bark on which they were served.
Upon closer inspection, the thin Parmesan Leaves looked like they had been “spray-painted” with edible food dye to resemble autumn leaves. The attention to detail was amazing with green streaks resembling leaf veins. This savoury morsel was best eaten by popping the entire Parmesan leaf topped with braised minced mushrooms, a small chunk of Mozzarella and Basil into the mouth. The creamy and savoury cheese went perfectly with the earthy notes of the mushrooms. The flavour combination was lifted by the refreshing taste of basil. Definitely worth a try if you encounter this dish.Glen Garioch Virgin Oak @ S$245 (Retail)
The Parmesan Leaves were paired with Glen Garioch Virgin Oak Artisanal Small Batch Reserve. As I’m still discovering the wonderful world of whisky, I was thrilled to be able to try a label that I hadn’t tried before. This limited edition expression was so named because the whisky had been matured in barrels made using the inner heartwood of 100 year old virgin oak trees from the North American mountains. The slightly spicy and woody whisky was fairly easy on the palate. Although I preferred the Auchentoshan Virgin Oak to the Glen Garioch Virgin Oak, I think this bottle is worth a try if you have the opportunity to savour it.Dark Shot Glen Garioch-infused Valrhona Dark Chocolate, Salt & Pepper
The first of two desserts, I loved the Dark Shot that was served along with a bucket of dry ice that emitted cool “smoke”! The chilled Valrhona Dark Chocolate drink had been infused with Glen Garioch Vintage 1999 Whisky. The addition of salt and pepper added a savoury and spicy touch to the chocolate drink.Glen Garioch Vintage 1999 @ S$222 (Retail)
The Dark Shot was paired with Glen Garioch Vintage 1999. This limited edition expression had been matured in Oloroso Sherry Casks since 1999. As I love Sherry Cask Whiskies, I enjoyed this vintage because of the sweet flavour of raisins and smokiness of caramelised toffee. A Must-Try if you have the opportunity to savour some.Explosion Vanilla Panna Cotta infused with “Surprise”
The next dessert was intriguingly named “Explosion”. Described as a Vanilla Panna Cotta infused with “Surprise”, I expected a flavour “explosion” of sorts. I was most pleasantly surprised to have my tongue titillated with the familiar tingling from pop rocks sizzling and popping in my mouth. This brought back fond memories of my childhood. Pop rocks are such a fun ingredient that’s harder to come by these days, I hope they will show up on more dessert platters soon like the one I had at RWS last year.Bowmore The Devil’s Casks @ S$193 (Retail)
There’s an interesting story behind this whisky. Here’s what I found on the website: “Legend has it that the devil once visited the church in Bowmore. Now if you’ve ever seen it,you’ll know that the church is circular, built that way (so it’s said) so there would be no corner in which the devil could hide. The local congregation spotted the devil and chased him down through the village, into the gates of Bowmore Distillery. Here, the warehousemen were filling casks and loading them aboard the paddle steamer, The Maid of Islay. Gates and doors locked tight shut, every inch of the distillery was searched, but to no avail. As legend goes, the devil escaped in a cask of Bowmore bound for the mainland.” True to it’s name, this whisky was strong! Apparently it was bottled at cask strength of 56.9%. Even though this whisky was matured in sherry casks, it wasn’t as sweet as the other sherry cask whiskies I’ve tried. It had a pretty strong peaty flavour which I’m not a huge fan of. If you’re into peaty whiskies, this should be right up your alley.Bowmore 23 Years Old Port Matured 1989 @ S$868 (Retail)
Saving the best for last at this whisky tasting, we had the Bowmore 23 Years Old Port Matured 1989 bottle on its own. Smoky and fruity, I thought this was easier on my palate than the previous one. I guess the fact that it was matured in Port Casks helped too as I love Port Cask Whiskies as well. This is worth a try if you have the opportunity to savour it.Mr. Gordon Dundas Morrison Bowmore Distillers, Global Brand Ambassador
Thank you, Mr. Gordon Dundas, for guiding us during the whisky tasting. I’ve acquired a taste for Whisky (especially Single Malts) in recent years. I attribute it largely to the education offered by Brand Ambassadors like Mr. Dundas and Mr. Robert Hicks as well as friendly enthusiasts.
Mr. Gordon Dundas has kindly put together some advice for novice whisky drinkers like myself:
What is your advice for a novice whisky drinker to appreciate whisky?
Go for it! Nose it first, be gentle with your nose so introduce the whisky gently and the same when you taste, small sips. Do not put off by the alcohol strength initially and feel free to add water, it will change it!
Which is the best whisky (from Morrison Bowmore Distillers) for a novice drinker to start off with?
Start with a lighter style whisky such as Auchentoshan American Oak or 12yo at 40% ABV.
Do you think it is easier for drinkers to appreciate whisky when used in a cocktail? What are your views on whisky cocktails?
We do a lot of whisky cocktail events with Auchentoshan. It can really make some stunning cocktails such as a Three Wood Old Fashioned. It is a great way to enjoy whisky as it can really show some of the flavours but key to a great whisky cocktail is that you must be able to taste the whisky.
Does an older whisky always mean it’s a better whisky? How does the number of years affect the taste?
It certainly does not always mean better. A whisky is as good as the wood it has been in more than the years. Taste is what whisky is about so a single malt with no age statement can be much better than a 12 year old whisky. That is not to say that there are not some amazing whiskies that are old and been in great casks. Bowmore has some stunning whiskies that have been in casks for 40 years plus and here the time and cask is crucial to developing the taste.
The Vintner on Duxton is running bottle and glass promotions in May 2014 so do pop by to check them out.The Vintner on Duxton 37 Duxton Hill Singapore 089615 Phone: +65 6222 1057 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Web: www.the-vintner.com/ Operating Hours: Monday to Saturday: 4 pm to 12 am Closed on Sunday * Morrison Bowmore Distillers Limited Edition Single Malt Scotch Whiskies are available at The Beam Cellar. The Beam Cellar 229 Mountbatten Road, #01-03 to 07 / #01-17 to 19 Mountbatten Square, Singapore 398007 Phone: +65 6559 1155 Web: beamglobalasia.com.sg PS: Thank you, Beam Global Asia, The Vintner and MSL Singapore, for the kind hospitality during this whisky tasting.